President Donald Trump signed an order last Thursday keeping the US Embassy in Israel at its present location in Tel Aviv and deferring its relocation to Jerusalem for at least six months.
The president had promised during his 2016 White House campaign to move the embassy to the Israeli capital if elected.
“We will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem,” Trump said at the 2016 AIPAC conference in Washington DC.
After the November election, however, Trump remained mum on whether he intended to follow through on his pledge.
The waiver signed Thursday defers implementation of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, which requires the US Embassy in Israel be relocated to the Israeli capital. Every president since Bill Clinton has invoked the act’s emergency waiver to defer relocation of the embassy.
Despite Trump’s signing of the order deferring the embassy’s relocation, a senior US official said the move was a temporary delay, insisting the White House still intends to make good on Trump’s 2016 campaign promise.
“It’s a question of when, not if,” the official said, AFP reported, adding that “he doesn’t think the timing is right, right now.”
“In timing such a move he will seek to maximize the chances of successfully negotiating a deal between Israel and the Palestinians.”
The president met with Israeli leaders last week during his first visit to the Jewish state since the inauguration.
The trip, which included a meeting with Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, was intended to lay the foundation for renewed negotiations between Israel and the PA – an oft-repeated goal of President Trump.
Several top Democratic lawmakers from New York State slammed Trump for his decision to sign the waiver delaying the relocation of the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said: “As someone who believes that Jerusalem is the undivided capital of Israel, I am deeply disappointed in President Trump’s decision.”
He added: “Will those who criticized president Obama for not moving the embassy make their voices just as loud and just as strong when it comes to President Trump’s failure to move the embassy?”
Congressman Elliot Engel, the ranking member of the House Foreign Relations Committee, said that Trump’s campaign promise to move the embassy was the only issue he had agreed with the president on. “The one campaign promise I hoped President Trump would keep was to move our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. But like much of what he said during the campaign, that, too, was a lot of bluster and is now another example of the president sending mixed and confusing signals to our friends around the world.”
“It just doesn’t make sense that our embassy in a closely allied country isn’t in the same city as the government with which we need to work so closely,” he added.
The Trump Administration remains adamant that Trump did not renege on his campaign promise to move the embassy and still plans to do so at a later date.
By: David Rosenberg
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